If you're a DIYer, lover of vintage, supporter of recycling and reusing, or just plain cheap, you've probably given some thought to visiting a salvage yard or warehouse. You can find these facilities around the country. Habitat ReStore is one of the best known. My personal favorite is Community Forklift in Bladensburg, Maryland. The idea behind these businesses is to salvage materials from construction sites, building demolitions, etc. and resell these materials--often to benefit nonprofit causes. This beats the heck out of this stuff ending up in a landfill and provides the opportunity to pick up some great materials for very little money. If you're looking for reclaimed wood, this is the place to go, not to mention a kazillion other cool things. I'll tell you straight up--I love these places.However, if you've never ventured into a salvage yard, you may feel a little intimidated or confused. Hopefully I can provide you with some tips that will give you the confidence to dive in.
There are a few things you need to know before you head out the door. First, these places are not like your average Home Depot. They tend to be messy, chaotic, and dirty. Warehouses are unlikely to be heated in the winter or air conditioned in the summer, so dress for the weather. Wear work clothes that you won't mind getting dirty. And don't even think about wearing flip flops or heels. Use a cross-body bag or carry your things in your pockets. You want to keep your hands free.
Second, you'll be expected to load your finds in your vehicle by yourself. So make sure you have a vehicle that's suitable for transporting large items. I have a station wagon with a roof rack. I also have a selection of kayak tie down straps (affiliate link) that are the bomb for securing stuff to your vehicle. Consider bringing a helper too. The staff is usually not allowed to help customers load, so keep that in mind.
Third, there are a few essentials to bring: a tape measure and work gloves. Like I said, this isn't like Home Depot where the sizes of things are marked. And unless you're fond of splinters, you need the gloves.
I was looking for pieces of reclaimed wood today, but I love just wandering around for inspiration. There was so much cool stuff! These doors were amazing. At least 10 feet tall.
And tons molding and trim.
A huge selection of French doors, some with original wavy glass.
Check out these pieces of an old tin ceiling.
I just loved this vintage stove.
And what about this sink? It could be so awesome in a farmhouse kitchen.
I could think of some many things to do with these vintage shutters.
They had a great selection of mantels. This is where I found the mantel I'm using in the finished basement.
These old lockers would be so fun in a mud room.
This was a solid chestnut bed. So sweet.
This little cabinet was all metal. Very cool.
I think this little school desk would be so cute in a kid's bedroom or playroom. The top opened up and would be great for storing art supplies.
And check out all this vintage hardware.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Lighting fixtures, tile, windows, flooring, they had it all.
So what do you do once you find something you want to buy? First, put on your gloves and haul it out into the open to do a full inspection. Returns usually aren't an option, so be sure you're aware of any damage or imperfections. Measure everything to be sure it's the right size. Then go grab a dolly and bring your find to the cash register.
After paying, bring your vehicle to the loading dock (if available) and load up. Be sure to secure everything well.
In the end I came home with three pieces of wood and a lot of ideas. I hope this has inspired you to check out a salvage yard near you. Have a great week!